May 27, 2010 13:50
North Korea's Navy Command is believed to have planned the attack on the South Korean Navy corvette Cheonan, which was carried out by the Reconnaissance Bureau, according to a radio broadcaster to the North. Ha Tae-kyoung, who operates Open Radio for North Korea, says the six North Korean sailors aboard the submarine that attacked the Cheonan were given "hero" status.
"North Korea's Navy Command planned the Cheonan attack around Jan. 8," the birthday of leader Kim Jong-il's son and heir apparent Jong-un, "and the Reconnaissance Bureau led the mission by deploying a submarine and a mini-sub," Ha told a press conference Wednesday.
Citing sources in North Korea, Ha said, "The submarine protected the mini-sub, which was carrying two mid-sized torpedoes and two mines for self destruction should the mission fail." All six operatives on board the mini-sub were given hero status back in North Korea, and the crew of the accompanying submarine were also awarded top medals, he added.
Ha cited three reasons why Kim Jong-il approved the attack: to avenge the North's defeat in a naval clash near Daecheong Island in the West Sea in November last year, to test out new stealth submarines and strategies, and to ratchet up tensions in order to facilitate the succession. "Kim Jong-il visited the naval command with Jong-un to boost morale at the end of December after the defeat in the West Sea," Ha said. "He did not fire any high-ranking officials responsible for the naval defeat, but ordered them to seek revenge."
The North Korean Navy's headquarters and an army division in the West Sea supported the mission, he said. The plan was reviewed by the minister of the People's Armed Forces, Kim Yong-chun, and Vice Chairman of the National Defense Commission O Kuk-ryol. Ha said Kim Jong-un probably compiled the reports filed by the defense commission and briefed Kim Jong-il.
Ha pointed to Kim Jong-il, Kim Yong-chun, O Kuk-ryol, as well as North Korean Navy Commander Jong Myong-do and Kim Yong-chol, head of reconnaissance operations, as the five main culprits behind the attack on the Cheonan. "A day before the attack on the Cheonan, North Korea ordered the West Sea fleet and army division to prepare for combat." He claimed that soldiers were told the alert was in preparation for joint South Korea-U.S. military exercises but ordered to fight back if the South Korean Navy chased the sub after the attack.
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